I can remember when time seemed to stretch. Days were long, weeks were long and there was time to savor things. Now, time flies. Here it is Saturday again and I look back and realize that I’ve hunted three times in a period that seems unbelievably short. I really should write up my hunt reports right away before they all start to blend into one, long gallop through the woods.
Last Saturday we had our first joint hunt of the season with Tanheath (Pomfret, Conn.) joining us. It was the first time I’ve ridden Freedom in a joint meet. Last year I wasn’t sure he could handle the larger numbers. This year, I figured he’d be fine. And he was.
Of more concern was the footing. We had two days of heavy rain coming up to the hunt and when the sun came out on Saturday I wasn’t sure what we’d find. We were hunting off of Monument Street in Concord and part of that territory is down by the river. There are times when the river bank trail is pretty much non-existent.
I was also mildly concerned that I hadn’t ridden since Tuesday’s hunt. Every time I had time to ride, it was just raining too hard. To be on the safe side, I “upgraded” his bit to a Kimberwicke. I like to leave him on a loose rein most of the time while I ride . . . but I also like to have brakes.
I needn’t have worried. This hunt started out with a good long canter through the woods. The footing was much better than I’d feared and even the down hill jumps weren’t too slippery. The Kimberwicke commanded enough of Freedom’s attention to keep him balanced and listening but wasn’t so much that he curled up behind it. He was jumping in good form and enjoyed the pace through the woods.
Our second cast was in a spectacular meadow. We had the chance to watch the hounds work the scent and then we were off. A nice trot through the field and over the zigzag fence.
This field connects with another that is equally spectacular. We galloped up to the top of the hill and then had a brief pause while staff rounded up the hounds.
At this point a friend had an unscheduled dismount over a large coup (not hurt, luckily) and I stayed behind while she remounted.
When we caught up to the field we discovered that the hounds had found some exciting live scent. The source was revealed when two deer bounded across the final field, depositing the hounds right back where they should be — at the hound truck.
Our third cast was into a little jewel of a spot – private land that is at the end of a long winding and very wet path. Hunt members had built four new fences around the perimeter. They were too large for us to jump at the end of a hunt, but we enjoyed the gallop.
All in all it was a good two hour ride. I think our Tanheath guests enjoyed the day and we’re looking forward to hunting their territory soon.
Tuesday was a a misty, gray day. It drizzled a bit as I drove to Stow, but a little damp is good for holding scent! The start of the hunt in Stow is down a causeway and on a flood plain. It’s always beautiful but Tuesday it was atmospheric.
The hounds were right on the scent
nt and the first cast was fast and a lot of fun. It was over far too soon. Freedom was in fine form and armed with the Kimberwicke he was light and responsive. His bounciness stands me in good stead because he often canters when most of the field is trotting. I have to admit that it’s quite an enjoyable gait to sit!
The second cast was into the woods. We kept a good pace along the trails and watched the hounds working. We had three casts in all and ended up with a brisk gallop around the flood plain.
Yesterday we hunted in Acton. It’s always been one of my favorite territories but it was also the last hunt I was able to do with Kroni. For the first year after I lost him I couldn’t bring myself to ride there but now, Freedom has reclaimed it for his own.
This is a hunt where we get to ride on some amazing private land — wide open hay fields, magical forest trails and